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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rabbit calicivirus: Update on a new biological control for pest rabbits in Australia


Rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD), also known as rabbit haemorrhagic disease, is being used to control wild rabbits in Australia. Deliberate release of RCD followed extensive non-target animal and human testing and consideration of some 472 submissions. A national monitoring and surveillance program is in place to quantify the impact of RCD on rabbits, rabbit damage, predators, competitors, and ecosystems. Preliminary data suggest wide spatial variation in RCD impact, from no observable effect to >90% mortality and marked response in competitors and vegetation. This paper provides an overview of rabbit impact in Australia, details of the considerations and testing that preceded a decision to release, and results of impact studies to date.

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